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Live from the Intalio User Conference – Green BPM


First session is Doug Neal from CSC on “New Aspirations for BPM – Green and Global”. Doug took us back to 2001 when BPM was new and reminded us that the driver was a need for change (that could not be supported by the ERP systems of the time). How we manage change has evolved since then, particularly in the delivery of executable process specifications allowing support of constantly changing processes. Similarly, the ability to bring partners into the process has been dramatically improved through the use of BPMS – federated deployment. Now we are using BPMS to address “big” problems like Green IT.

Green IT is a big challenge – most companies don’t know how much power they use, for instance. Similarly, identifying waste and scrap is a big green issue as is recruitment of talent as younger workers expect more “green” behavior from their employer. The issue is not computer’s using power (2%) but how to use computers to go after waste and scrap (98%). For instance, only about 30% of power generated reaches a home – 55%+ is lost at generation time as heat while another 5-10% lost in transmission. Similarly, “Greenwashing” – looking more green than you are really – is rampant. What we need, he says, is a Prius dashboard with feedback on energy usage (miles per gallon) in time to do something about it. It can be very profitable, though, as Adobe found when it spent $1.4M on a green initiative and was cash positive in the first year. This meant using IT to integrate management, IT, facilities, workers to monitor and manage. It also means more sensors, and more dynamic configuration of those sensors, as monitoring is key.

Virtualization is another key technology as it, for instance, allows someone to have one laptop that runs Mac OS, Windows or whatever. A focus on virtual machines for tasks, not on dedicated hardware, is going to be key. The cloud, facilities like amazon.com’s storage network, is another key element as it allows very efficient access to resources. Although these options have higher risk, the price/performance is so much better that business will insist. Instead of trying to get “5 9s” of reliability, have lots of lower reliability services which can be swapped in and out quickly.

Video conferencing (both high end telepresence and lower-end, personal versions) is also changing the dynamics of travel. To make this work, though, people have to learn how to emote enough to show on video and how to use the video. Similarly, using twitter, might allow someone to monitor the mood of their team for instance even when they are distributed. All of these things allow you to change your mindset about how teams work, where they work and what resources they use, therefore.

All of these things revolved around IT because IT can answer crucial questions:

  1. Reducing power usage means understanding our power usage, what drives it and what can we do about it.
  2. Reuse and recycling require an understanding supplier’s carbon footprint, toxins in the supply chain etc and this means federated BPM
  3. Greening the business means monitoring and controlling things with technology
  4. Measurement, governance all require IT support

This is a long-haul issue and requires a long term perspective. It also takes innovation which means working with people outside our regular groups. This led him to talk about social networks and how they don’t necessarily map to organization charts. Organizing for “green” then is a social experiment as much as a technical one as collaboration is key.

Federated BPM is critical also due to the need for federated BPM in collecting and proving your usage numbers, in managing the partners in your supply chain, how you know your social network is working and in authentication and identification.